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Lucky Nadal claims title

Madrid: Rafa Nadal won an unconvincing second straight Madrid Open title after Kei Nishikori sustained a back injury when closing on victory in the second set of Sunday’s final and was forced to retire early in the third.

Nishikori made a blistering start on Nadal’s favoured clay to win the first set 6-2 and was a break up in the second and serving at 4-3 when disaster struck.

After a long rally with the score at 15-30, the Japanese pulled up clutching his back and Nadal went on to win the game and the set 6-4 to force a decider.

In a tremendously disappointing finish to an entertaining encounter, Nishikori could barely walk to the net to capitulate after Nadal had raced into a 3-0 lead in the third.

Earlier, Maria Sharapova recovered from a woeful start to overwhelm rising talent Simona Halep 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

Russian Sharapova needed to draw on all her experience on the clay in the Spanish capital to see off the 22-year-old Romanian fourth seed, who was appearing in the final of a premier event for the first time. (Reuters)